This month’s Japan Blog Matsuri theme is Summer Lovin’, and so I’ve been thinking a lot about what summer in Japan is like. For the most part, it’s incredibly hot, ridiculously humid, and not a season I miss at all. At times, the heat is so intense that it makes doing anything quite impossible. Working is hard, even sightseeing can be trying. I would never recommend visiting Japan in the summer – unless you were going to Hokkaido, where it’s cooler. (That is, unless you’re one of these crazy people who likes heat and humidity, of course!)
But summer in Japan isn’t all bad. In fact, there’s one thing in particular that I haven’t been able to get out of my head since the Matsuri theme was announced…
Ramune (ラムネ) is THE summer drink in Japan. It’s a blue, carbonated soft drink, and it traditionally comes in a glass bottle. It’s usually on sale at festivals, and you can get it in most supermarkets. Ramune bottles have a very distinctive design, and are popular with kids due to the unique opening system. The bottles are sealed with a marble, which is pushed in to release the pressure and make the drink fizzy. The marble then rattles around in the bottle as you’re drinking. This design of bottle is called “codd-neck“, and these codd-neck bottles were imported to Japan from the UK.
While ramune is available in PET bottles and cans, it’s the glass bottles with the marble which are really a symbol of summer in Japan. I tried one in a metal bottle once and it just wasn’t the same.
The original flavour of ramune is lemon and lime, and the name “ramune” apparently comes from the word “lemonade”. According to Wikipedia there have been a whole range of other flavours of ramune, including bubble gum, curry, wasabi and “mystery”. Unfortunately I’ve only ever tried the original flavour.
A couple of years ago, there was a ramune Kit Kat, which fast became my favourite Kit Kat of all time:
It was blue, fizzy, and limited to the summer period only. I couldn’t even tell you how many I ate, but I was thrilled when it came back the following year!
So, if you’re in Japan in the summer, try to fight the heat with an ice-cold bottle of ramune, have a break, and have a Kit Kat. 😉
Don’t forget to check out the other entries to the August Japan Blog Matsuri over at the wonderful SuperHappyAwesomeFunTime with Sean and Alice!